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The term already points toward intelligent, networked systems: previously separated production environments are combined to produce universal production worlds, which are partly of a physical nature, and partly attain a new functionality in the cyber space of web connectivity.
It is a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain
organization. Based on the technological concepts of cyber-physical
systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services, it facilitates the vision of the Smart Factory.
other via the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services
Interoperability: the ability of cyber-physical systems, humans
and Smart Factories to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services
Virtualization: a virtual copy of the Smart Factory which is
created by linking sensor data (from monitoring physical
processes) with virtual plant models and simulation models
Decentralization: the ability of cyber-physical systems within
Smart Factories to make decisions on their own
Real-Time Capability: the capability to collect and analyse
data and provide the derived insights immediately
Service Orientation: offering of services (of cyber-physical
systems, humans or Smart Factories) via the Internet of
Modularity: flexible adaptation of Smart Factories to changing
requirements by replacing or expanding individual modules
According to Beckhoff, the focal point in this development is the convergence of information and automation technology.
In order to realize Industry 4.0 following a genuinely holistic approach, three aspects have to be implemented: horizontal integration across company boundaries, vertical integration through networked production systems, and integrated engineering throughout the product lifecycle.
PC control offers the right solution for all of that, especially since it can be adapted very flexibly to varying application requirements: intelligence can be arranged in a hierarchically modular fashion under the central controller, but also decentralised. For instance, with equal rights if necessary.
In addition, there are hardly any technical systems today that cannot be operated by PC or at least be connected to a PC via software. Considering the great variety of manufacturing systems and technologies that are used in industrial enterprises, the key role of PC technology as an open platform and defacto industry standard for automation is obvious.
The openness and universality of PC Control can also be seen – entirely in the sense of Industry 4.0 – in current research work for the seamless integration of information areas that until now have been separated, based on Beckhoff.
To sum up, saving more time and money, and manufacturing more products are the core value of Industry 4.0.
Terry Gou, Chairperson of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, in 2015 vowed to move towards developing the integrating innovation design manufacturing (IIDM) from the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) model, stating that the robot industry will eventually surpass the auto industry.
Hon Hai, trading as Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest electronics contractor manufacturer, has since late 2014 decided to focus on the development of Industry 4.0 following a trend started by Germany.
Most importantly, the company’s transformation has won the recognition of the outside world, having attracted world-class enterprises, including Nokia, seeking cooperation.
Gou said Hon Hai has been in close cooperation with Nokia, saying Nokia's N1, which won the 2014 best Android tablet PC award last year, was the result of bilateral cooperation, in which Nokia is in charge of brand and core telecom technologies while Hon Hai takes care of the rest, including the Internet of Things (IoT), patents, and next-generation wireless technology. Therefore, this proves that Hon Hai is moving towards the IIDM model.
Hiwin Technology Corp. is also devoted in Industry 4.0. Its Smart Ballscrews and Linear Guideways package can use cloud and smartphones for remote monitoring in order to control vibration, hydraulic pressure, temperature increases, and lubricants control equipment and meet Industry 4.0 requirements. This equipment took six years of development as a collaboration between HIWIN, National Tsing Hua University, and National Sun Yat Sen University in Taiwan.
Besides, Hiwin teamed up with Fuburg Industrial Co. and Nexcom International Co. in an attempt to facilitate smart manufacturing. As a result, the daily necessities industry roboticized its production lines, and a wet tissue packaging machine under the above three companies’ coopration will be put into mass production.
Fuburg said that a wet tissue production line is needed 12 to 15 workers. However, only the packaging process needs eight workers. As long as the wet tissue packaging machine had been used, each wet tissue production line would save six to eight workers.
“Few of international companies are willing to open its communications protocol, it’s hard to cooperate with them in realizing industrial 4.0.” said Clement Lin, Nexcom Chairperson.
Therefore, the three Taiwanese companies work together and make the best use of Taiwanese industrial ecosystem in light of competing in global smart manufacturing.
Furthermore, the wet tissue packaging machine is a combination of Fuburg’s knowledge of manufacturing process, Hiwin’s Delta robotic arm, teaching box and server drive from Hiwin Mikrosystem, Nexcom’s EtherCAT robot control unit, EtherCAT I/O control card, human–computer interactionm (HCI), etc.
Delta Electronics is one of the robot total solutions provider, the company's strengths in the area are most of the key components and software are manufactured by itself. Earlier this year, the company launched its latest series of SCARA entitled DRS40L, which is designed for light industry use.
The company's Chairperson Yancey Hai said that the series of robots have been put into production in their company, and it has increased by three times of the production.
Since factory automation is an important trend in semiconductor industry, many companies have developed the related robotic arms or a series of robots. “The differentiation is that no other companies like us that most of the key components of robot, including server, controller, motors, and batteries are manufactured by itself.” said Yancey Hai, the company's Chairman.
Peter Peng, Director of Robotic Automation Business Dept. at IABG of Delta Electronics claimed that one of the features of the SCARA DRS40L
is that it is easily to be integrated and paired with other equipments of the factory automation to form a work shop.
When asked about the roadmap of robots, Yancey Hai emphasized that the company will focus on industrial robots currently with the reason that robots designed for home care is still immature.
“To some degree, robots are dangerous. Whether it is suitable for home care is still unknown and has a lot of uncertainty, for example, if you want to shake hands with your home care robots, it is hard to say it won't punch you in the face. Industrial robots are framed to do some certain works, one of the reason is in terms of the safety.”
According to IMS Research & IMF Forecast, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the market demand of robots will be 5 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Last but not least, Delta Foundation, who has always attached importance to talent cultivation, collaborated with K-12 Education Administration of the Ministry of Education, National Academy for Educational Research, and Taiwan’s three top universities of science and technology, to launch Taiwan’s first online open learning platform, DeltaMOOCx, aiming to nurture core competitiveness of automation talents of the new generation and reduce education-jobs gap in technical and vocational education.
Launched in March 2015, this platform that focuses on technical and vocational education, gathers Taiwan’s experts and academia to produce a series of online interactive courses that incorporates technological trends and practical needs.
Together with big data analysis on the learning process, this free autonomous learning pattern that has no eligibility restriction is expected to provide Taiwan with more sufficient and comprehensive preparation for the challenge of Industry 4.0 in the future.